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Bus crash survivor alleges negligence in $6M lawsuit

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One of the survivors of the January OC Transpo bus crash that killed three people has filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit, alleging negligence by the transit agency, the bus driver and the City of Ottawa.

Gwen Lambert was sitting on the top deck at the front of the westbound route 69 bus when it slammed into an overhang at Westboro station, according to her lawyer Derek Nicholson.

She was one of 23 people injured in the Jan. 11 crash.

According to a draft of the $6.375-million lawsuit — the same as the one filed in court — Lambert’s injuries will mean a loss of future income and a hefty bill for her physical and psychological recovery.

“She’s really a strong person and very positive, so hopefully she’ll get well. That’s the main thing,” Nicholson said. “But if she has financial losses we want to make sure that they’re compensated for.”

The lawsuit also claims Lambert suffered emotionally after seeing her fellow passenger and coworker Bruce Thomlinson die of his injuries, Nicholson said. 

Lambert declined to speak to CBC News, referring questions to her lawyer.

The Province of Ontario is also named in the suit for allegedly failing to require seat belts on transit buses. None of the claims have been proven in court.

In a brief statement, Rick O’Connor, City of Ottawa clerk and solicitor, said the city “has no comment on the case while it’s before the courts.”

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday. 

Three people were killed in a collision involving an OC Transpo double-decker bus at Westboro station on Jan. 11, 2018. (@karinawieser/Twitter)

Long road to recovery

Other plaintiffs in the suit include Lambert’s son, two sisters and brother, who claim Lambert’s injuries resulted in a “loss of care guidance and companionship,” according to the draft. 

They say in the suit that Lambert`s recovery will be an uphill battle, and that she won’t be able to walk at all for at least a year after her surgeries.

Lambert is claiming $4-million for long-term care, including physiotherapy, and a potential move to a new home that`s a better fit for her new accessibility needs, according to the suit.

“The crushing injuries to her legs will require her to have long-term care,” Nicholson said. “And that’s true, I think, of a lot of people that were in that accident.”

The suit seeks another $2 million in damages for lost income, saying Lambert will “be unable to complete additional years of service” as a government employee and therefore won’t be able to accrue additional pension benefits. 

Bus driver named in suit

The lawsuit also makes several claims regarding Aissatou Diallo, who was driving the bus at the time of the crash. 

Lambert and her co-plaintiffs claim the City of Ottawa and OC Transpo were negligent for failing to ensure Diallo was “properly trained, fit and competent to operate the bus.” 

In the months before the crash, Diallo was involved in another collision at St. Laurence station. OC Transpo has so far not released any information about her driving record. 

Diallo was arrested by police at the scene and taken in for questioning, but was later released without charges. Police have said impaired driving has been ruled out as a cause of the crash. 

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Ottawa sets monthly record for total COVID-19 cases with 99 new cases on Friday

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Sixteen days into October, Ottawa has already set the record for most cases of COVID-19 in a single month.

Ottawa Public Health reported 99 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa today, and three more deaths linked to novel coronavirus.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health had reported 108 new cases of COVID-19, but there is sometimes a lag in COVID-19 case reporting between Ontario and Ottawa Public Health. On Wednesday, Ontario reported 39 new cases in Ottawa, while Ottawa Public Health reported 45 new cases.

There have been 1,511 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa in October, surpassing the September record of 1,413 new cases.

Since the first case of COVID-19 on March 11, there have been 5,908 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 301 deaths.

Across Ontario, there are 712 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Health Minister Christine Elliott reported 213 new cases in Toronto, 135 in Peel Region and 62 in York Region.

HOSPITALIZATIONS IN OTTAWA

One more person was admitted to an Ottawa hospital with COVID-19 related illnesses on Friday.

Ottawa Public Health reports 47 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19, including eight in the intensive care unit.

ACTIVE CASES OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA

The number of active cases of COVID-19 increased on Friday.

There are 792 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, up from 777 active cases on Thursday.

A total of 4,806 people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.

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Ottawa mayor rejects possible return of Ottawa-Gatineau border checkpoints, ‘I really don’t think they work’

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Mayor Jim Watson does not want to see police checkpoints return to the five interprovincial crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau, saying “I really don’t think they work.”

Earlier this week, Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin told the Ottawa Citizen that police checkpoints could return to the Ottawa-Gatineau border at “any time,” with the final decision in the hands of the Quebec Government. Earlier this month, Dr. Brigitte Pinard of the Centre Integre de sante et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais said border checkpoints were “possible,” adding “right now, our message is to limit large gatherings.”

When asked by CTV Morning Live host Leslie Roberts about the possibility of police checkpoints returning to the Ontario-Quebec border, Watson said he did not think they worked back in the spring.

“There were so many gaps when the police were not there, and people just figured out I’ll go at an earlier time or a later time. We saw police officers sticking their heads in the car with no masks, so that was not healthy for those individuals,” said Watson Friday morning.

“It’s a costly expense when our police are stretched already to the limit trying to do the work, to have them set up at five different bridge points potentially 24 hours a day would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars every month and I think the money is better spent.”

On April 1, Gatineau Police and the Surete du Quebec set up checkpoints along the Ottawa-Gatineau border to limit non-essential trips into Gatineau. Gatineau Police estimated the random police checkpoints between April 1 and May 17 cost the service more than $400,000.

Mayor Watson tells CTV Morning Live that the Quebec Government’s decision to move Gatineau into the “red zone” two days after Ontario moved Ottawa to a modified Stage 2 should help.

“We are a close relationship and when things happen in Gatineau there’s often a trickle effect over here and I think the fact that we’re both in the red zone, and Quebec of course is the worst hit province, at least levels the playing field for our restaurants and bars,” said Watson.

“I think in the past what had happened was our restaurants and bars would close and then the ones in Gatineau would stay open, and then people from Ottawa would go over there irresponsibly, in my opinion, and then come back potentially with the virus and spread it here.”

While border checkpoints would limit the non-essential travel across the Ottawa-Gatineau border, Watson says that’s not the way to beat COVID-19.

“The message is very clear, stick to your household. This is not the time to have an AirBNB party or a keg party in your backyard, or have 20 people or 30 people in for an engagement party. I know a lot of these get-togethers are important socially for people and emotionally, but we have to ask people to be reasonable and responsible, and this is not the year to do those kinds of things.”

Roberts asked the mayor if he would have a conversation about border checkpoints with Gatineau’s mayor.

“I had it the first go-around, but at the end of the day I also respect their jurisdiction and their autonomy. It is the province that would have to impose that, not the municipality,” said Watson.

“From our perspective, we don’t think it’s an effective use of resources. We want to continue to get the message across that we can win this battle against COVID-19 if we socially distance, we wear a mask, we actually follow the simple rules that are put forward.”

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Ottawa woman breaks 14-day quarantine rule to work at long-term care home: police

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OTTAWA — A 53-year-old Ottawa woman is facing charges under the federal Quarantine Act after Ottawa police say she failed to self-isolate for 14 days after travelling abroad and returned to work at a long-term care home.

Ottawa Police say information was received indicating that an Ottawa woman had travelled abroad. She returned to Canada on Sept. 26, so she was required under federal law to quarantine for 14 days, until Oct. 9

“The woman decided not to respect this order and went to work on Sept. 30 at a long-term health facility in Ottawa,” police said in a news release. “When management was apprised of the situation, she was immediately sent home. The facility immediately activated mitigating self-isolation and cleaning protocols and informed all persons that had been in contact with the subject.”

Police say none of the residents of the long-term care facility have tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of the woman attending work.

Ottawa police say this is the first person they have charged under the Quarantine Act during the pandemic.

The woman is charged with failing to comply with entry condition under section 58 of the Quarantine Act and cause risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm under section 67 of the Quarantine Act.

The maximum penalty for causing risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm is a $1 million fine and three years in prison. For failing to self-isolate for 14 days, she faces a $750,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Police did not release the name of the woman, nor where she worked. The woman is due in court on Nov. 24.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s office issued a statement following the announcement of the charges.

“Mayor Watson was disturbed to learn about the alleged carelessness of the individual in question. This type of reckless behaviour could have harmed their colleagues, and more importantly, the residents of the long term care home. We must all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

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